Angola unveils cabinet, economic ministers keep posts

Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:25pm EDT

* President announces 35-member government list

* Finance, economy, oil ministers all retained

* Ruling MPLA comfortably won Aug. 31 vote

LUANDA, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos on Friday unveiled proposals for his cabinet following his election win last month, keeping his economic policy team in their posts in the government of Africa's second-largest oil producer.

Dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979 and is Africa's second-longest serving leader after Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, has started consultations to form the government based on an "indicative list" of 35 ministers, the presidency said in a statement.

Finance Minister Carlos Lopes and Economy Minister Abraao Gourgel are down to retain their posts, while Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos will continue to head the oil ministry.

The 70-year-old president's ruling MPLA party won an election on Aug. 31, obtaining 72 percent of the votes in only the second polls held since a 27-year civil war in the southern African nation ended a decade ago.

He was sworn in on Wednesday for a five-year term, saying a priority would be maintaining political stability.

The main opposition party UNITA - which lost the civil war against the MPLA a decade ago - and two smaller parties had challenged the election results but their appeals were thrown out by the elections commission and the Constitutional Court.

Foreign observer missions gave last month's vote broad approval.

According to the cabinet list, Dos Santos abolished the post of Minister of State for Economic Coordination that was created in January to bring Manuel Vicente, former CEO of state oil firm Sonangol, into the government.

Vicente, who is tipped by analysts as a potential successor to Dos Santos, became vice-president after figuring as No. 2 in the MPLA's election candidates list.

With oil clients eyeing the government's plans to ramp up crude production and many poor Angolans hoping the MPLA lives up to its pledges to reduce poverty, analysts will be closely watching Vicente's role in economic policymaking.

In a list which saw Georges Chikoti remain in charge of the country's foreign affairs, the main departure is of Minister of State and head of the president's Civil House, Carlos Feijo.

Feijo, who was seen as one of Dos Santos' closest allies, will be replaced by Edeltrude Costa, a lawyer who is one of the MPLA's representatives in the national elections commission.

Fernando Piedade Dias dos Santos, who was vice-president in the outgoing government, was on Thursday elected as speaker of a parliament in which the MPLA won 175 out of the 220 seats.

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